The US on Wednesday designated several nations, including China, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar, as "countries of particular concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.'' China firmly opposes groundless accusations as it smears the country's religious freedom, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told the media here. When asked about the US charge, Zhao said, "Chinese government protects citizens' religious freedom in accordance with the law".
He said China has nearly 200 million religious believers, over 3.80 lakh clerical personnel, 5500 religious groups and 1.40 lakh places of worship for religious activities.
''People in China enjoy full freedom of religious belief. Facts speak louder than words and a lie repeated a thousand times is still a lie," he said.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted that the United States will not waiver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country and said the challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched.
''They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community's urgent attention," he said. Refuting Blinken's comments, Zhao said the US should do soul searching and stop using religious issues to interfere in other countries.
''The spread of Islamophobia and other extremist ideologies in the US has caused a great deal of tragedy. Instead of doing some soul searching, the US frequently used religious issues to interfere in other countries internal affairs," he said.
''We urge the US to face up to its own problems, manage its own affairs well, respect facts, abandon prejudice and stop using religious issues to interfere in other countries," he said.